The Ravens signed Lamar Jackson to a record-setting contract extension and then immediately gave him (Zay) Flowers. Perfect.
I dug the Browns plucking my guy Dorian Thompson-Robinson on Day 3.
I liked all that, but which prospect hauls did I LOVE?
Here are my favorite 2023 NFL Draft classes, Schein Nine style.
Moving up from No. 10 to 9 to ensure the acquisition of Jalen Carter made all the sense in the world. Yes, the concerns about Carter are well-documented. But Philadelphia has a strong culture formed by great leaders, especially on the defensive line with franchise stalwarts Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. Not to mention, Philly's roster is littered with a bevy of Carter's fellow Georgia Bulldogs, as you might have heard. Carter was a force of nature on UGA's back-to-back national championship teams, drawing favorable comparisons to another game-wrecking defensive tackle in Warren Sapp, who fell in the draft due to character concerns and then proceeded to carve out a Hall of Fame career.
If Carter hadn't been there for the Eagles' taking, I would have been fine with them drafting electric edge Nolan Smith in the top 10. Instead, Roseman stole him at No. 30. Remarkable. Howie wasn't done, either. On Day 3, Philadelphia scooped up two more talented Georgia products. First, the Eagles jumped up the draft board to grab size/speed corner Kelee Ringo at No. 105 in Round 4. He was Daniel Jeremiah's No. 47 overall prospect. A short time later, Philly acquired veteran RB D'Andre Swift in a low-stakes trade with Detroit to replace the departed Miles Sanders. The former UGA star has struggled with health issues in the NFL, but when right, he's flashed gamebreaking ability. Think about that raw talent joining a cadre of playmakers that includes A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. Good luck stopping Jalen Hurts and Co.
The rich get richer. Roseman's a genius who plays the draft like a fiddle.
Once it became apparent in the final stretches of the pre-draft process that Carolina would be taking Bryce Young at No. 1 overall, all attention shifted to Houston ...
Should the Texans take a quarterback or the draft's top defensive player?
Houston chose BOTH! And you can color me obsessed with this bold approach, which sets up new head coach DeMeco Ryans with a foundational piece on each side of the ball.
Ryans, GM Nick Caserio and Co. ignored all the noise surrounding the clear No. 2 quarterback in this class, drafting C.J. Stroud at No. 2 overall. The polished passer was terrific at Ohio State and will start right away for the Texans. He's a stud. A natural thrower and leader.
Immediately after the Stroud selection, Houston was back on the clock, having aggressively traded into Arizona's No. 3 slot to select Will Anderson Jr. The Texans undoubtedly gave up a ton of draft currency, but Anderson's the kind of dominant QB hunter who can change a defense. The man piled up 34.5 sacks in three seasons with the Crimson Tide. He was a bona fide star at Alabama, like his new head coach was before him. Anderson will fit Ryans' scheme like a glove, giving me serious Defensive Rookie of the Year vibes.
On Thursday morning, the Texans were a reeling franchise fresh off a third straight year with 12-plus losses. By day's end, Houston had a brand new identity with an inspiring building block on offense and defense.
I really don't get the post-draft hate for Detroit that I've seen in some circles. Sure, it was a windy road on Night 1. But Lions GM Brad Holmes ended up with two terrific football players.
First off, I love Jahmyr Gibbs. After starring at Georgia Tech, he transferred to Alabama last year and promptly piled up 1,628 all-purpose yards. He was the do-everything weapon for an all-time coach at an elite football factory. That stuff matters in prospects when you are trying to get over the hump and win. As I wrote last week, I have no problem with taking a running back in the first round -- especially when you're a good team seeking the cherry on top. The Lions officially count here! I thought Gibbs would go somewhere in the 20s, but the Lions grabbed him at No. 12 after trading down from No. 6. Remember this about mock drafts, which I admittedly love: They aren't real. It's content creation built off buzz and vibes; it's not the Bible. Gibbs is going to help the Lions win a lot of football games right away. Same story with linebacker Jack Campbell, who wasn't exactly a mock darling. But you know what he is? An athletic tackling machine who is also going to help the Lions win a lot of games.
In Round 2, Detroit drafted a starting tight end in Sam LaPorta and a fantastic defensive chess piece in DB Brian Branch. Detroit's extreme makeover in the secondary this offseason is inspired work. Furthermore, in the third round, Holmes might've found his quarterback of the future in Hendon Hooker. One of my favorite prospects in this entire class, Hooker was a true steal at No. 68 overall. Even if he doesn't ultimately supplant Jared Goff, the Tennessee product definitely boosts the QB room in Detroit, which is important for an organization looking to break through into the playoffs.
The Lions might've raised some eyebrows in Round 1, but by draft's end, Holmes had accumulated another talented crop of young players. All aboard the Lions bandwagon -- because it could really start taking off in 2023.
I thought for sure that it would be Jalen Carter at No. 5. But after getting over the initial shock of that not being the case, I quickly came to appreciate the fact that Seattle GM John Schneider hit a home run with Devon Witherspoon. Not only is he my favorite cornerback in this class, but he's one of my favorite overall prospects, as I expressed last week. I love his physicality, instincts, quick-twitch athleticism and alpha-dog demeanor. Witherspoon is perfect for Pete Carroll, and that corner combo with Tariq Woolen is elite.
With their second pick of Round 1, the 'Hawks took Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 20. Brilliant! A strong, agile playmaker in the slot, JSN perfectly complements DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, giving Seattle a terrifying -- and diverse -- trio at wide receiver. I also loved the two premium depth additions in Round 2: edge Derick Hall and RB Zach Charbonnet.
Last year's rookie class is a tough act to follow, but Schneider and Carroll provided quite a draft encore.
This one is simple. Throughout the pre-draft process, I promised that I would applaud whichever team selected Bijan Robinson -- yes, even as a top-10 pick. So here I am, throwing bouquets of flowers at the Falcons.
I don't want to hear anything from the "positional value" crowd. This No. 8 overall pick is the next Edgerrin James, an all-around back who can take the league by storm from Day 1. Robinson fits perfectly into Arthur Smith's offense. He is the prototype of the modern running back: a sheer weapon who can beat you in all aspects of the game.
Brandon Beane wasn't messing around. Dalton Kincaid is a perfect weapon at tight end for Josh Allen, and the Bills GM didn't leave the selection up to chance. Knowing Dallas would also be a fine fit for the Utah product, Beane leapfrogged the Cowboys and got his guy.
Think about some of Buffalo's losses last year when the Bills stalled in the red zone. The Week 3 defeat in Miami and Week 10 setback vs. Minnesota come to mind. Allen and Stefon Diggs needed help. Kincaid will supply it. And he will take heat off Gabe Davis and Dawson Knox, allowing those two pass catchers to produce more efficiently.
Another stellar Bills pick: mauling guard O'Cyrus Torrence. Beane got a Round 1-caliber blocker -- and Bucky Brooks' top-rated interior offensive lineman -- near the end of Round 2.
Sometimes we get swept up with the awesome drama and trades in the draft and forget the obvious. Bryce Young went No. 1 overall because he's going to be a star quarterback right away under Frank Reich and the all-star coaching staff he put together in Charlotte. My love for Young's game, football IQ and leadership is well-documented.
Two days before the draft kicked off, I identified Jonathan Mingo as this year's George Pickens. So bravo, Panthers -- you got yourself a steal on Day 2. I love when a team supports its first-round QB with a second-round WR. Think of Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins joining forces on the Bengals in the 2020 draft. Young and Mingo are going to shine together.
Stacking a quality draft on top of a fruitful free agency period, the Panthers are poised to shock some teams this year.
Once again, Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll remind Giants fans how nice it is to have smart people making decisions.
Just before New York was set to come on the clock, the draft saw an unprecedented receiver run, with four straight wideouts coming off the board for the first time ever in Round 1. Tough break for the WR-needy Giants. No matter: They just shifted to another position of need -- cornerback -- and hopped up a spot to snag Deonte Banks, a perfect size/speed/swagger fit in Wink Martindale's defense.
In Round 2, the Giants stayed patient and let the board come to them before pouncing on John Michael Schmitz, who can step in and immediately start at center. Then, in Round 3, with the receiver need still apparent, Big Blue moved up 16 spots to land Jalin Hyatt, an absolute burner out of Tennessee who had some first-round buzz. It's not hyperbole to believe he instantly becomes the Giants' No. 1 receiver.
Perfectly blending need with value, Schoen and Daboll played the draft board like seasoned vets. It's a new day in New York!
I've been critical of the Steelers at times for favoring sizzle over substance. Not here! Leapfrogging the Jets to grab Broderick Jones -- the last of the Big Four offensive tackles -- was a savvy move. He will immediately start and help protect my guy Kenny Pickett. Then Pittsburgh stole Joey Porter Jr. with the first pick of Round 2, which was fitting because they originally stole that pick from Chicago in the Chase Claypool trade. Porter should've been a first-rounder. And having the Steeler bloodlines with his dad is so special and fun.
The hits kept coming on Day 2. Keeanu Benton tore up the Senior Bowl and feels like a perfect fit on Pittsburgh's defensive front, which needed some young blood. And I really like massive Georgia tight end Darnell Washington a lot. He just feels like a take-no-prisoners Steeler who would've fit right in with those nasty Super Bowl teams of the 1970s.
In his first draft sitting in the big chair, Steelers GM Omar Khan did a tremendous job.